Thursday, January 30, 2014

Week 4, 36% Body Fat (6 lbs. down!)

A cake made by my friend Misty Beard for last year's Chocolate
Fantasy - coming in just over a week!  Funny thing, I don't crave
chocolate any more - something I once thought impossible.
So, I'm down six pounds and my body fat percentage has gone down a full point!  Cause to celebrate!

Another cause to celebrate: I am coming to terms with clipless pedals!  I did a small ride around my neighborhood yesterday evening without a single fall!

Over the past year and a half I've come a long way.  I've learned that most of my limitations exist in my head. 

Who would have thought that a 300 lb. woman (I am pretty sure I weighed well over 300 at one point in my life) in her 40s would start biking to work, go on a diet, conquer obesity and then start training for a six-day bicycle tour?  I was the last one to think all of that was possible ... until I changed the way I thought about myself.

Too often I hear women say unkind things about their bodies, or that they're too old to make a real change in their lives.  So many of us give up too easily on ourselves, not recognizing the power we each hold within our souls.

Put your fears about finances, what others might think, your physical abilities, or whatever it is that's keeping you from your dreams aside. Stop using the words "can't" and "impossible" and take a single step in the direction you want to go.

At the beginning of my journey all I did was buy a cheap bike and started riding it the mile and a half to work. In a couple of months, without even thinking about it, I lost my first 25 lbs.

I left my mind open to new possibilities and after that, things just started falling into place.  A generous friend gave me a nicer bike because she didn't need it anymore and I started riding longer distances.  A relative drug me (kicking and screaming) to a local chiropractic clinic where I heard a woman who was once close to my size talk about Ideal Protein and I started to believe I could lose weight, too!  After I lost over 100 lbs. I started thinking about what I could achieve with this new body and started to revisit my childhood dream of going on long-distance journeys on a bicycle!

On a whim I bought a copy of Prevention Magazine, not realizing there was an article about bicycling and touring companies in the issue.  In that magazine I learned about Woman Tours, a company that supports all woman bicycle tours all over the US and in Europe.  I could go on an on about the coincidences, the money that just came available or the anonymous gifts that dropped into my lap that helped me achieve my dreams.  I truly believe that my small spark of belief ignited and drew these miracles into my life like moths to a flame.

You can lose weight, go on a European cruise, find a wonderful job, whatever you want to do ... all you have to do is take a small step of faith, believe in your own power and love yourself.

My life is far from perfect.  I am a constant work in progress, but I can tell you my life is so much richer, brighter, happier than it was seven years ago when I was experiencing my own dark night of the soul.  I know from experience that you don't have to stay in that pit of dispair or hopelessness.  The power lies within each of us and a single step in the right direction can change the rest of your life.

God bless you in your own journey!    

Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Week 3, 37% Body Fat

"Clipless" Pedal and Shoe for Bike.  Photo from
This set-up is similar to what I have on my bike.
This has been a week of challenges, both physical and mental.

In preparation for my bicycle tour of the Natchez Trace and other parts of Mississippi, I'm slowly getting new gear and equipment installed on my bike (and biking wardrobe).

The latest additions to my bike are "clipless" pedals.  Up until now I've been using flat pedals and canvas tennis shoes on my bike trips. 

Every serious cyclist I know has suggested I invest in clipless pedals to help make me a more powerful/efficient cyclist, especially if I plan to do a lot of long-distance biking. According to one friend,  "clipless pedals are the best shortcut to becoming a better cyclist."  So this week I invested in new pedals and bike shoes for the bike.  The shoes have a cleat on the sole that snap into the pedal, firmly attaching your foot to the pedal.

As a result, I'm having to learn how to ride a bike all over again.  You see, with clipless pedals you can't simply dismount from the bike when you need to stop.  You have to plan ahead, unclip your feet (which takes a twist of the foot) and get your foot free before you can stop the bike.

I installed the pedals on the bike this week and hopped on, and immediately crashed, HARD onto pavement and continued to fall several times (but I did move off pavement and onto grass so the falls didn't hurt so much).

My husband was there to witness my first few attempts with the new pedals, and he was getting more vocal every time I crashed, threatening to take the pedals back off the bike.  After several more falls I moved the show to the back yard and asked my husband not to watch the process.  I finally resorted to clipping in with only one foot and practiced clipping in and out with that one foot..... and still fell a couple of times.

At the end of the day both the bike and I were covered with chain oil, grass stains and scrapes.  I haven't fallen this much since I first learned to ride a bike when I was six or seven!  And let me tell you, I don't bounce back from injuries like I did forty years ago!!

After limping back into the house, battered from my first experience with the pedals, I indulged in a couple glasses of wine, which is not allowed on the diet. I also got extremely hungry on one day (before the new pedals were installed) when I took a 15 mile bike ride and ended up adding several extra IP snacks to what I ate that day.  The extra calories consumed were close enough to the weigh in day that nothing changed from last week in the numbers. They're exactly the same (but my jeans are fitting looser)!
Dieting is not so easy the second time around, for some reason it's easier to go "off plan."  I haven't done enough soul searching to figure out why I am having such a hard time with this, when it was so easy and straight-forward before.  To add to that challenge I am also having to  prepare high-caloric foods for my husband to help him gain strength and body mass back after the damage chemotherapy and radiation did to his body.  It's so freaking hard not to taste those foods when I'm cooking them!!

In both my eating and cycling endeavors, I refuse to give up.  I'm covered in bruises and ache all over my body and I am not dropping weight as quickly as I did before - but I can do this.  I know in my heart I am destined to be a fit, long-distance biker.  Both a fit body and taking long trips on my bike are things I've dreamt of for years and both goals are completely in my reach and are within my ability to achieve.

Sometimes I have to take a few lumps, or learn humility (I'm not the uber dieter I thought I was) along the way, but this is all part of the process.  I have to be willing to fall every once in a while in order to grow and learn from my experience.  Change is never easy.

The bruises will be worth it if I come out of this a better cyclist ... and doing without the extra calories or resisting the temptation of a favorite snack will be worth it when my body fat ratio is down to 25-28%.  And as I've said before, I am totally worth the effort!

Thursday, January 16, 2014

Week 2, 37% body fat

Me, at my heaviest in 2007 
This week is a prime example of why I don't pay as much attention to the number on the scale as I do my body fat percentage.

I dropped a pound - a single pound - during the past week.  A lot of dieters get discouraged over "only losing a pound."  The folks who get discouraged get too wrapped up in the number on the scale, when there's a lot more going on than just weight.
Me today

This week I had my monthly visitor AND I did a lot of biking.  Both of those factors will have a direct impact on what the scale says.  Guess what, my weight didn't drop that much but my fat ratio did!  I actually gained muscle mass (which weighs more than fat) during the week from exercise and was retaining a bit of water because I happen to be female so the drop on the scale didn't show much of a change, but my body mass index did!

Getting back into the flow of the diet has not been as easy as I thought it would be. I had forgotten about the crazy cravings in the first two weeks and how the urge to snack will grab a ahold of you and become an obsession.  I think there's a bit of pride involved, too.

There's a part of me that says, "Oh come on!  You lost the weight.  You're still smaller than you used to be and you look good!  Rest on your laurels and live it up!"  That's my blasted ego talking... and that's the part of me that allowed me to gain 30 pounds over the past few months. This is not the voice I should be listening to.

My soul says I'm better than that, that I have a right to a healthy, fit body and that I am completely capable of achieving any goal I set for myself.

There are other voices I need to work on tuning out.  The voices of others, people who care about me.  The people who warn me that my "empty fat cells are going to be plotting against me to fill up again" and that I'll have to diet the rest of my life.  I also have to tune out the people who say I'm thin enough and I should stop dieting.

The truth is, the numbers don't lie.  I'm back in the obesity zone.  My fat ratio is much higher than it should be.  The mirror doesn't lie, either.  I see the "muffin top" above the waist of my jeans where it wasn't before and I realize I still have some work to do.

I don't want to be that girl who dropped a ton of weight, only to gain it all back.  That's the girl who whines that diets never work, that the weight just comes back.  The difference between me and "that girl" is that I'm willing to change.  Going back to the old way of eating will not only add to my weight, but it will make me old before my time.

So, I am going to hang on to my resolve to get my body back to its happy zone until these nasty early diet cravings go away (It took about two weeks the last time - I'm halfway there), achieve a 20-something % body mass, and keep my mind open enough to learn and embrace a new way of eating!  Today, I promise myself to go through all phases of this program so I have the knowledge necessary to "make it" out in the real world.  I don't think it's impossible.

I deserve a healthy, long life with a body that feels good.... and so do you!


Thursday, January 9, 2014

Week 1 (restart), 39% Body Fat

Me before and after dropping 100 lbs. After a 30 lb. gain
I am back to this place.
When I started with Ideal Protein eons ago, I weighed 288 lbs and had a 48% body fat.  It took me a little over a year to drop 120 lbs. and get my body fat down to 28%.

Back in August, my life went a bit haywire and I stopped the diet in order to focus on other things going on in my life. Unfortunately, I let stress get the better of me and I ate more high caloric foods than I should have and many nights I drank wine in the evenings to help me sleep. 

As a result I put some weight back on.  Friends look at me in surprize when I say I've put on some weight because they don't see a big change in my shape.  After all, I am still wearing the same size jeans I was wearing when I stopped dieting.

Well, let me tell you, I know what I look like under the clothes and I definitely have lost some ground.  I have a pooch on my stomach that wasn't there before and the scale shows not a 20 lb. gain that I thought I had put on, it's closer to 30!

I'm not frustrated.  One of the amazing things I learned about myself while dieting is that I can do pretty much anything I put my mind to doing.  I am not a lost cause! I've climbed a bigger mountain than this in the past and I can continue on to a firm body. It's time I got my groove back, start eating right and get back on the bike!

On Monday I started back with Ideal Protein. This time my goal is to get my body fat ratio down to somewhere around 25-27%.  From here on out I am going to focus on my body fat ratio, instead of pounds, because I think we get too hung up on the numbers we see on the scale when it's the body fat number that tells you how healthy you really are.

More next week!

Thursday, January 2, 2014

Cancer defeated (we think) ... time to refocus

My husband's chemotherapy and radiation treatments are over and we're focused on healing and getting him off the feeding tube and back to eating "regular" food.

The doctors are optimistic and think the treatments beat the cancer, but we won't know for sure until a fresh round of scans are taken in February.

Now that the holiday madness is in the past, I'm taking stock and taking a good hard look at the last few months.

I am still fitting into a size 12 jean, but it's a tight squeeze.  My favorite pair of "skinny jeans" are in the closet, too tight to wear.  I stepped on the scale to see I've put on about 25 lbs. since August.

I can't say I'm completely happy about how I did once I was off the program, but I'm not discouraged, either.  After initial success on a diet, many people are too willing to throw in the towel when the weight starts creeping back up. They say, "See!  Those fad diets never work!  You only gain the weight back after you're done!"

I am not defeated.  I know what caused the weight gain and I take full responsibility for what happened. I know I can easily get back to where I was before my husband received his diagnosis.

Sitting for hours on end in waiting rooms and sticking close to home in case I was needed made me more sedentary than I wanted to be.  I didn't get to go on regular bike rides but now that my husband is feeling better and he doesn't have daily medical treatments, I can get back on the bike and start riding regularly (Besides, I have a bicycle tour in April that I need to start training for!)

The sedentary lifestyle along with the the foods I ate over the past few months are what started packing the pounds back onto my frame.  I ate what was convenient - or comforting - instead of what my body really needed.

So am I going to wring my hands in frustration?  Give up?  Beat myself up for making bad choices?

The answer is a resounding NO!

I was able to reduce my weight by 120+ lbs. not that long ago.  25 lbs. is nothing!  I know how to get this weight off and it won't take me long to do it!  I LOVED the way I felt and looked 25 lbs. lighter and love myself enough to do what's best for me.  To be completely honest, I think I need to get a little bit beyond where I was before.  So I'm guessing I need to reduce about 40 lbs. total.

Not only that, but I didn't get beyond Phase II of Ideal Protein when I was on it before.  It's time to finish the program and make it all the way to Phase IV! I think Phase IV is the phase where you learn how to cope with the world post-diet, and I could have used those tools over the past few months.

This morning I called the center where I was on Ideal Protein and scheduled an appointment to weigh in on Monday.  My weekly blog posts will resume on Monday, too!

Starting this week, I am back to commuting to work via bicycle (more than I drive) and begin a serious training routine for my bicycle tour of Mississippi.  I've got to be up for 30-50 mile daily bike rides by April!

So I start this year about where I was this time last year, weight-wise, and with just as much faith in myself and determination as I had before.